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Neck injuries linked to high costs for patients and spouses, reports study in Spine
Date:3/11/2013

d increased costs for doctor visits, hospital services, and medications.

Social costsincluding sick pay, social welfare, and other "transfer payments"were also significantly higher for patients with neck injuries and their spouses. Despite receiving more welfare payments, patients with neck injuries had only slightly lower employment rates.

'Pre-existing Increased Vulnerability' to Higher Costs

Overall direct and indirect costs were about 2,500 higher for patients with neck injuries and 1,600 higher for spouses. "The consequences for the spouse were not negligible, accounting for approximately one-third of the total familial health-related costs," the researchers write.

The increases in both direct and indirect costs began to occur well before neck injuryup to eleven years earlier. Dr Jennum and colleagues write, "Particularly among those subjects whose injury had a long-term socioeconomic impactie, those who developed persistent symptoms after neck injuriesthere was evidence of a negative social- and health-related status several years before the accident." This pattern suggests a "pre-existing increased vulnerability" to the economic and social costs of neck injury, for both patient and spouse.

How could costs increase even before the neck injury? It may reflect the well-recognized psychosocial factors affecting people's ability to cope with back and neck pain, Dr Jennum and coauthors suggest. The increased costs for spouses may reflect a trend for people with "low-threshold sickness behavior" to choose spouses with similar tendencies.

Neck injury is a common and costly problem, with approximately ten percent of injured patients developing chronic neck pain and other symptoms. Whiplash-associated disorders occurring after traffic accidents are an example of a potentially chronic neck injury leading to high medical and social costs.

"Neck injuries are associated with major socioeconomic consequ
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Contact: Connie Hughes
connie.hughes@wolterskluwer.com
646-674-6348
Wolters Kluwer Health
Source:Eurekalert

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